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William Mason High School's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM

Puck, played by Ravyn Jones, watches Lysander, played by Webb Beatty, argue with his love Hermia, played by Gina Marra, in William Mason High School’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Review by Ella Adams, Mercy McAuley High School Critic Team

Love, betrayal, magic, and comedy sat in every corner of Mason High School’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This fresh take on the hilarious classic was astounding.

This timeless tale by William Shakespeare was set in Ancient Greece – though this specific production took place in the 1880s. We follow the love story of Hermia and Lysander, which is disrupted by Hermia’s arranged marriage to Demetrius, Helena’s jealousy of Demetrius’ love for Hermia, and a group of mischievous faeries whose magic creates chaos between the lovers. Meanwhile, a group of mechanicals attempt to write a play to perform for the Duke of Athens as a wedding gift.

The cast and crew of A Midsummer Night’s Dream were given a challenging show yet executed it exceedingly well. The costumes and set were simple and beautiful, which fit this production perfectly. As for the actors, each performer brought unique talents that stood out individually. This made the cast of Mason High School’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream unforgettable.

The character Hermia was brought to life by Gina Marra. Hermia’s male counterpart – Lysander– was played by Webb Beatty. Gina and Webb performed incredibly both as individuals and as a couple. Marra’s portrayal of Hermia was bold yet stayed true to Hermia’s fierce and fiery character. Beatty played the devoted lover and a comedic role at the same time, which he did in a way that surpassed expectations. The two’s interactions did not seem tense at all and were as romantic as they were written to be.

Delaney Cowels as Helena was hysterical. She pulled off the hilarious yet flirtatious character seamlessly. From her body language to the way she held onto Demetrius by the ankle to keep him from running away, Cowels had a wonderful portrayal of Helen. Miguel Castro also had a humorous take on the character Nick Bottom. Everything from his comedic attitude, cluelessness after being transformed into a donkey, and his 5 dramatic (and self-written) deaths during the play written for the duke made him stand out among this talented cast.

The costume crew, led by Debbie Wang, created stunning clothing that suited not only the characters who wore it but also matched with characters they were supposed to be in a relationship with. Meanwhile, Kavya Chintakayala and the rest of the paint crew made detailed and lovely designs that complimented the sets that they were given.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Mason High School was an astonishing performance in every aspect you can see it from. This production was an exciting blend of comedy, mischief, and love that was worthy of carrying on the name of this Shakespearean masterpiece.

Photo 12: Oberon, played by Nick Hughes, makes up with Titania, played by Molly Cronin, as the other faeries watch on in William Mason High School’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Review by Katie Berich, Walnut Hills High School Critic Team

With the power of flashy tech, powerful acting, and a little magic, Mason High School’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was an excellent take on a well-known classic.

Often regarded as Shakespeare’s best comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream follows four young lovers, a troupe of aspiring actors, and a band of faeries as they all enter the forest in the days preceding a royal wedding. Puck, a mischievous sprite, sets out to cause trouble with a love potion, pitting the young lovers against each other and forcing the faerie queen to fall for a newly donkey-headed actor. Curses are reversed, truth is revealed, and love prevails. The show culminates in the aspiring actors’ performance of their original play.

Mason High School adapted the setting of the show to the 19th century, but included nods to its original Athenian roots in costuming and set design. Cast and crew displayed deep understanding of the text in passionate performances and detailed designs. Physical acting was a hallmark of the production, clarifying and supplementing dialogue in difficult to understand passages.

Leading the cast in their respective roles of Lysander and Demetrius, Webb Beatty and Eli Clayson gave convincing portrayals of both genuine and potion-induced love with their talented counterparts, Gina Marra (Hermia) and Delaney Cowles (Helena). While these four performers all gave captivating performances, Gina Marra’s authentic and understated take on Hermia was a highlight.

The Faeries, anchored by Molly Cronin as Titania, captured the whimsical nature of their characters in a brief musical number with vocals from Lily Droege. The Rude Mechanicals worked nicely together as an ensemble, with standout performances from Miguel Castro (Nick Bottom) and Josie Lorenz (Snug).

Technical aspects were well-executed all around. Costumes by Debbie Wang and crew were intricate, with many pieces handmade for specific characters. Each Faerie flaunted custom wings with a matching flower crown. The set and paint crews, led by Neal Pandhi and Kavya Chintakayala respectively, transformed Mason’s blackbox into a charming forest with a masterfully painted floor and backdrop that featured a delicate heart motif to tie in the themes of love in the show.

Performing Shakespeare can be quite challenging, but cast and crew in Mason High School’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream overcame difficulties with grace in a brilliant, hilarious display of talent.

Photo 3: Helena, played by Delaney Cowles, tries to draw the attention of Demetrius in William Mason High School’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Review by Helena Hennessy, Mercy McAuley High School Critic Team

A classic Renaissance tale of great adoration met with utter defeat: Mason High School’s rendition of the renowned play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, conjured emotions of unadulterated joy along with existential pining.

Penned by, perhaps history’s most widely known and celebrated playwright, William Shakespeare, the story of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is most often credited as a daring comedy. Despite this title, within its subtext, this piece features timeless truths about the human condition, as well as subtle explorations of the ways in which individuals differ in the face of love. This tale, within its sequencing, starkly transitions between the central characters within any given scene. From young, lovesick folk to whimsical forest faeries, the upfront discrepancies between these groupings, as well as within their beliefs towards love, make for a kitschy series of events.

Mason High School produced an earnest yet immensely humorous production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, featuring line after line of quippy absurdity. Most notably, they strived to fixate on subverting typical expectations that are often held toward romance tales from the Renaissance era. Stories from this period, circa the 14th century, were often subjected to an unspoken guideline of maintaining courtly values of chivalric romances. This production, instead, chose to fixate on the complex relationships between its characters – devaluing stereotypes and maintaining individuality.

Gina Marra, within the role of Hermia, throughout the first act, appears as though she is embracing a façade of her character believing herself to be more mature and worldly than she truly is. However, as the story progresses, Marra, through performance dedication and subtleties, embodies the courage and fighting spirit of Hermia, all while maintaining the character’s bright-eyed outlook. The role of Helena was wittingly personified by Delaney Cowles. While maintaining her portrayal of Helena’s utmost desire for romance, Cowles embraced the character’s innate whimsy. She was wildly devoted to portraying every facet of this role; its tendencies to engage in foolish behavior in all. Eli Clayson, as Demetrius, foreseeably depicted the role’s humor, in addition to its courteous underlying values. Clayson embraced showcasing pure silliness, as well as, ultimately, comradeship.

The wholeheartedly ridiculous spirit of Nick Bottom was amusingly characterized by Miguel Castro. The intensely passionate role calls for certainty and confidence, both of which Castro displayed effortlessly. His diction was a standout of the entire production; he could shake the walls of the theatre with any old articulation. The role of Puck (Ravyn Jones), the black sheep of the faerie bunch, who possesses a penchant for mischief and causing ruckus was executed in a delightfully sprightful manner. Jones rendered Puck’s craving for chaos, and their stage presence always, subsequently, lingered.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream upholds obscure illusions of magical elements; requiring technical elements that subtly shimmer within every facet. The illustrious set design, which primarily featured beautifully painted flooring and backdrops, orchestrated by Kavya Chintakayala, spotlights the soul of the story. Tasteful floral arrangements and tree branches in the outline of hearts represented the tale’s central core value: love. The understated yet ornate costume design, spearheaded by Debbie Wang, was complemented by meticulous details such as the faerie’s sparkling, glittery face makeup, from Emori Witmer-Gautsch, as well as each character’s unique shoe choice.

Within emphasizing the value of human connection through dignified yet playful characterization, as well as through featuring subdued but radiant design elements, Mason High School discovered and depicted all-encompassing balances within this play’s most riveting truths; calamitous revelations paired with enchanting wonders.

Titania, played by Molly Cronin, is attended by her faeries in William Mason High School’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Excerpts From Other Top Reviews

"An exceptional ensemble throughout the play was The Rude Mechanicals , each actor having a definite character, standing out to the audience. Miguel Castro, as Nick Bottom, was unapologetically energetic, even when he died five times in a row. Leading The Faeries, Oberon (Nick Hughes) and Titania (Molly Cronin) went through a story of their own. Both headstrong and powerful, they helped move the other plotlines, but not without a little mischief and trouble from Puck, played by Ravyn Jones."

-Sofia Schaffer, Mercy McAuley High School Critic Team

"The crew used various creative liberties to contribute to the wonderful performance. Firstly, the costumes, headed by Debbie Wang, had a clear late-1800s aesthetic that was consistent across the cast. The set crew, led by Neal Pandhi, was the perfect blend of minimalistic and detailed, being perfectly utilized by the cast in a sensible manner."

-Parker Roland, Ryle High School Critic Team

"Among the leads, one actor that stuck out was Delaney Cowles (Helena). Through her incredible comedic portrayal of this role and her stunning, raw emotions, she truly won over the hearts of many. One moment where she shined was in scene one, where she was lamenting and explaining to Hermia how she wishes to gain Demetrius’ affection. A perfect blend of comedic delivery and emotional undertones allowed the scene to develop Helena’s character perfectly."

-Elaina Ward, Mercy McAuley High School Critic Team

"The regal energy was electric in Molly Cronin as Titania. She elegantly led a lovable ensemble of faeries, each exhibiting enthralling individuality. The same bountiful personality was also found in the mechanicals, led by the ever-amusing Miguel Castro as Bottom. This charismatic bunch spread delight each time they graced the stage. Snug, played by Josie Lorenz stole numerous scenes with their consistently engaging facial expressions and physicalities. Also among the mechanicals, Sammy Sherman as Thisby gave the audience the largest laugh of the show. "

-Caroline Lovelace, Walnut Hills High School Critic Team

"Technical elements of this production created a whimsical mood fitting the to the story. The floor, painted by Kavya Chintakayala and crew, was covered in gorgeous heart patterns of flowers to create the forest setting and represent the theme of love in the show. Scene shifts in this show, organized by Ellis Clay, Kaylin Bolen, Gavin Dunn, and Mary Scott, were extremely efficient."

-Catherine Foster, Mercy McAuley High School Critic Team

"Leading this production were the phenomenal portrayals of Hermia by Gina Marra and Lysander by Webb Beatty. With convincing chemistry and ably placed comedic timing, their relationship blossomed throughout the show regardless of Lysander’s false endearment with Helena, displayed and despised hilariously by Beatty and Marra."

-Peyton Pope, Highlands High School Critic Team

"All in all, though Shakespeare may be long gone, his messages and stories are being passed along with justice. Mason High School’s< actors clearly understood the depth of their show and created beautiful scenes of laughter and sadness and the technicians added to the show's themes; bringing even more beauty to the production. But who knows! Maybe it was all just a dream?"

-Julia Biernat, St. Ursula Academy Critic Team

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